A Global Guide to Yachting

Richard Broadwell / Alamy

From the French Riviera to the shores of Croatia, the
whole world is your port of call when you have a yacht. Here's where to float
your boat and when.

Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen docks his yacht in
Cannes in May. Spain’s King Carlos has been known to sail his yacht near
Mallorca in August. And Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal Alsaud stores his watercraft in Antibes. But
globe-trotting via yacht can be for anyone. Do you want
to get in on the fun?

There are
many considerations—and even a few conventions—when deciding your sailing
schedule. Generally one summers in the Mediterranean and winters in the
Caribbean. Of course, sometimes half the fun is breaking the rules, so don’t be
too fast to scoot out of the Mediterranean come fall. “One of my favorite times
of year in the Med is September,” advises Robin O’Brien of Fraser Yachts, a Fort Lauderdale- and
Monaco-based company that offers a variety of yacht charter and sales services.
In recent years, with
the crowding of the western Mediterranean, the eastern side has grown in
popularity, and the favored ports are expanding beyond the Greek islands
into Montenegro, Croatia and beyond.

There are
also plenty of opportunities to extend the Caribbean season. For instance,
because Grenada and St. Lucia lie south of the hurricane belt, they generally
don’t get hit by the summer storms. That means after Christmas in St. Barths (if you can snag a coveted berth
in Gustavia harbor), you may find yourself enjoying fine weather in the
Caribbean through the spring and into summer. Then again, that yachting
schedule means you’ll forfeit months of old-world western-Mediterranean glamour
in Monaco for the Grand Prix and Cannes for the film festival. Hey, you have a
yacht, so you of all people should understand opportunity cost.

Aside from how much you’re willing to spend purchasing or
chartering a yacht, where you want to dock is one of the primary
considerations. Some of the older Mediterranean ports are not equipped to
harbor the superyachts that measure hundreds of feet. And the ones that are may
be limited. Until the construction of superyacht berths catches up with the
demand, be prepared to drop anchor a few hundred feet offshore, going back and
forth between the yacht and shore in a smaller craft or tender. Sound like a
headache? Fear not: Herewith, a guide to the world’s finest ports, with advice
from industry experts.